Meet the new DEA agents in Narcos
The new season of Netflix crime drama Narcos sees plenty of new faces and of many different nationalities.
To add to the diverse mix that includes a Venezuelan, a Portuguese, a Spanish and Colombians, are New Zealand actor Matt Whelan and American actor Michael Stahl-David.
Whelan, 32, and Stahl-David, 34, join the show as new US DEA (drug enforcement administration) agents Daniel Van Ness and Chris Feistl, based on real-life DEA agent Feistl.
In the show, the duo are supervised by show mainstay DEA agent Javier Pena, played by Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal.
The New Paper caught up with Whelan and Stahl-David in Bogota, Colombia ahead of the show premiere in August to find out more about their experiences working on Narcos.
How did you land the roles?
Stahl-David: I was having a 12-hour day while doing a play called Engagements last summer. During a ten-minute break, I made an audition tape in my dressing room and later received a call from Narcos executive producer Eric Newman. I then made another audition tape with some acting based on direction and received a callback after.
Whelan: It was the same process for me. Unlike Michael, I don't speak any Spanish so for one of the audition tapes, I got a friend to recite and record the lines for me. I had to learn Spanish overnight, basically.
How did meeting the real-life DEA agent Chris Feistl help you with your roles?
Stahl-David: I spent some time getting to know him in Arizona before we started shooting. I suggested trying out an escape room together and at first, he wasn't really keen, saying we had a lot of ground to cover. But it turned out to be helpful because when we were solving the puzzles, there was that same energy, sense of urgency and quick-thinking involved during raids.
Whelan: He came to Cali (in Columbia) and we were able to pick his brains. We found out more about his state of mind when the incident really happened. He showed us how to use our weapons correctly and how to clear a room. He also showed us the safe houses and buildings that were raided, as well as the apartments of the godfathers. He shared with us how roads at these houses were built a certain way so that they can enter and leave without being spotted.
You both work very closely in Narcos. How did you build your chemistry with each other?
Stahl-David: In some scenes, we had to do some improvisation. For example, what would we be talking about as we spend hours surveilling a house? That was fun for the both of us because we have a similar sense of humour and we get to make something up on the fly. We haven't seen the show, but I think it will be obvious when you see it on screen.
How was it like working with Pedro Pascal?
Whelan: He created a working environment that was very fun and comfortable. On the first day, I remember feeling very nervous but he made sure things ran smoothly and he was very welcoming.
Stahl-David: He is a real goof so that helps with the stress of this job. He brings a certain playfulness to the set. In the show, he's our supervisor, and in a way that mirrored our relationship during filming as well.